Monday, November 30, 2009

No, This Isn't A Food Blog

But, I want to share these easy waffle cookies Charlotte and I made this morning.



These are a super simple cookie that can be modified in many ways.
  • Add Craisins or other dried fruit to the batter to combat the 2 sticks of butter in the recipe!
  • Use them as a base for an ice cream sundae, instead of a cone or waffle bowl. 
  • Make them look like snowflakes by sprinkling powdered sugar over them.
  • Add orange extract instead of vanilla and serve with hot mandarin tea.
  • Almond extract would also be a yummy addition.

How else would you modify these yummy waffle cookies?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Activities

This morning Charlotte and I sat at the table having some fun with a few simple Thanksgiving activities. None of these are original to me and were pretty simple and uncomplicated for her to do.

The first one I really want to share with you though is a fill-in-the blank drawing of a pilgrim girl. I am so impressed with how Charlotte filled in the blanks of her face. And, while I think this looks like a piggy little pilgrim, it is just adorable to me!


Another activity we made was a "Sharing Book." This idea came 100% from Sprout Online. Charlotte wasn't as ready to share her things as I would have hoped, but then again, she is two and I was asking her to abstractly tell me what she wanted to share. In the end, she decided to share her paper (twice), sandbox (which we don't own), and her books (maybe she'll be a Reading teacher someday).





To vary her access to art materials today, I busted out a glue stick and fuzzy pom poms. (I know, such variety is amazing!) This one ended up looking more like a bad model of the solar system than a turkey, but Charlotte sure did have fun smearing glue all over the page!


We also tried coloring book marks, but she wasn't all that into it and preferred to color the blank side of the page.

Tomorrow I am hoping to finish a Thanksgiving centerpiece we started a couple of weeks ago. If we do, you can be sure I'll share some pictures with you.

Snapfish Photo Books Coupon Code

I love making photo books. They are a quick and easy way to document a major event or even the small events throughout the year. Especially when you don't have any room or time for serious scrapbooking.


While I like making photo books, I often need a little nudge to get them going and done. In case you are like me, you might need some help too. So here are some ideas for making a themed photo book:
  • based on the months of the year and various activities you did in each month;
  • an ABC book with something about your child that relates to each letter of the alphabet; or
  • you could also use a photo book to chronicle a major event in your life, such as a vacation, wedding, or the birth of a child.
And here is some more of a nudge from an email I received today...


"Snapfish has launched an effort with Rachael Ray in which Snapfish is giving viewers the opportunity to receive 50% off their own customizable photo book [no limit either!] using promo code from November 25-December 2, and $1 from the purchase proceeds will go to local food banks nationwide.

"The special will air today and will feature Rachael Ray's support a local community in Wilmington, Ohio, a town devastated by the economic downturn in which she will throw a huge Thanksgiving feast for the town.

"To support the effort, Snapfish is providing
the opportunity for viewers to receive 50% off their own customizable photo book using promo code RRBOOK from November 25-December 2, with $1 from the purchase proceeds going to local food banks nationwide.

"They can also view custom photo books featuring local high schooler, Zach McCune's photos available at http://wilmington.snapfish.com/snapfish of the town, to members of the community, documenting the town and Rachael's visit through Zach's lens and an exclusive photo book and gallery with photos from Rachael's trip, capturing her favorite moments.

For more details, you can visit www.snapfish.com/rachaelray.


What kind of photo book would you make?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Parade Rest

When we went to Disney for Charlotte's haircut recently, she wanted to stay for the parade. This is what happened 2 minutes before the parade started.



When we went to Disney for Charlotte's haircut recently, she wanted to stay for the parade. This is what happened 2 minutes before the parade started.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fun Dinner Game

The other night at the dinner table, Charlotte looked at me and asked, "What are you eating Mommy?" I replied, "a salad." She asked me again, "What are you eating Mommy?" And again, I replied, "a salad." Two more times we repeated this exchange. Finally, after she asked me for a fifth time, "What are you eating Mommy?" I started giving her silly replies.

"What are you eating Mommy?"

"My fork.

"What are you eating Mommy?"

"Mary's hands."

"What are you eating Mommy?"

"Paper."

"What are you eating Mommy?"

"Your nose."

Here, Bruce interjected with his own question. "Charlotte, what are you doing?"

To which Charlotte replied, "playing a game with Mommy!"

That made me laugh out loud that she even knew we were playing a game. What a fun child she is!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Decorating for Thanksgiving

"Grateful not only for the blessings I can count, but for the ones that can not be measured."

For a few years now, I've slowly collected some Thanksgiving decorations in a frugal way by only buying them after the holiday. All with the good intentions of using them the next year. Well, you know what they say about good intentions. Good. (Because I don't, what do THEY say about good intentions?)

Anyway, after a major reduction of goods was attempted when we moved to Lakeland in 2008, I fought to keep my holiday decorations on the promise that I would use them and not forget about them. Guess what happened. Yep. In 2008 I didn't decorate for Thanksgiving at all. I didn't even put up the 3' pre-lite tree I bought for Christmas.

So this year, lest I be forced to give all of my Thanksgiving decorations away, I am using them. And I might even add to them when the post-Thanksgiving sales make everything 75-90% off. For those of you who are interested, here is what the top of my entertainment center looks like (because that is really the only place I have to put these sorts of things).


The orange and purple pumpkin was painted by Charlotte last month. The fake pumpkin just to the right was a gift from Mrs. Borland at church for working with the Acteens last year. And the four Willow Tree figures were all gifted to me over the last several years and actually stay on top of the entertainment center year round.


Would you believe I bought the tall, scrolly, brown Partylite candle holder at a yard sale for $3 last year? I don't think the person knew what they were selling. And another piece of Charlotte's art work sits behind the vase. It is a leaf sun-catcher we made at the children's museum.

Have you ever used gift bags to decorate? I started doing that in college and can't remember who gave me the idea, but some of them are so pretty it is senseless to throw them away.



Did you do any decorating for Thanksgiving? If so, leave a link to your post in the comments below so I can check it out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mary's 1st Trip to Disney

While yesterday Charlotte had her first hair cut at Disney's Magic Kingdom, I don't want to overlook the fact that the day was also Mary's first trip to Disney. Mary is only 10 weeks old and wasn't very involved in the trip, but I thought I'd show a picture or two of her first visit.

Hanging out in the Baby Bjorn


Sleeping while Charlotte got aforementioned haircut


And her first picture in front of Cinderella's Castle

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charlotte's First Haircut

It took me a long time to finally be ready for Charlotte to get her first haircut. And at the end of the day, I'm not even sure she realizes she had it cut. Here is the story, mostly in photos, of Charlotte's first haircut.

First, the barber, Michael, plied her with Mickey stickers. Lots of Mickey stickers.


Then, he gave her even more Mickey stickers to keep her distracted, once she finished the banana in her hand though.




After a little squirt of water, the first cut happened. I wasn't looking too closely because I was trying to help Charlotte focus on the stickers.


Then, because the banana was all gone, it was time to see if the Mickey sticker tasted any good. Since Momma did make Charlotte leave the house without any breakfast. (We ate it in the car.)


 Still completely oblivious that Michael is cutting ~2 inches off of my hair...


Sharing my stickers with Michael's cheek. Notice the short hair?


 Not liking the bangs getting cut.


Rocking her new mouse ears. They say 'First Haircut' on the back and were included in the cost of the haircut ($14!)


Sharing a special moment with Michael after he showed her the new 'do.
 

Showing off her new 'do later in the day, but with her bangs brushed back since she didn't seem to like how they felt on her forehead.

Friday, November 06, 2009

How to Save Money with Coupons - Part 2

How to Save Money with Coupons - Part 1 

Before I go on with the how's of saving money, I'd like to address the very important "why" of saving money. If you will, please allow me some liberty as I re-write on of my favorite passages of scripture, 1 Corinthians 13.1-3.
If I speak in the tongues of coupons and of sales, but have not love, I am only a squeaky cart or a clanging cash register. If I have the gift of savings and can fathom all FLIPs and all sales ads, and if I have a stockpile the size of a mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my stash to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
You see, it does us me no good to spend $8 for $100 worth of groceries if there is no love in our my heart. It does me no good to have 40 cans of green beans, 28 boxes of cereal, and 10 tubes of toothpaste, if  I don't also have a giving heart to go along with it.

We are clearly taught by the Bible to be good stewards of our money. This is so that God might be glorified when the world sees that we value God more highly than money or possessions. God receives no glory when we stack coupons so others might see how clever we are with our manufacture, store, peelie, blinkie, and competitor coupons. Instead, God is glorified when we "coupon" in a way that points people to Him.

We are also taught to have a generous spirit. No longer do we live in a time when giving 10% is sufficient. The New Testament calls us to a higher standard, to give sacrificially, regardless of the percentage of income. This means different things to different budgets. Some can give 90% and live off of the remaining 10%. Some might find that giving sacrificially means giving just 5% of their income. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, if you do it without a generous spirit than your gift is not honorable to God.

One way I can give generously using my couponing abilities is to stock up on expensive health and beauty items when they are on sale and I have coupons. Just recently, our church had a missions conference and as one of our local missions projects, toiletry bags were made up for the local men's shelter. Here is a picture of the items I was able to donate. I could have never afforded to buy these at full price, which is at least $50. Instead, I was able to shop wisely and estimate that I spent no more than $5 on all of these items.

You see, saving money in and of itself isn't good enough. Bragging at the end of the year that you saved 92% based on the numbers at the bottom of the receipt isn't sufficient reason to do all of this. Spending so much time clipping coupons that you can't make time for your friends and family is not wise.

Therefore, while I encourage you to spend your money wisely and be a good steward of this resource God has given you (no matter how little or how much you have), I doubly encourage you to see how you can honor God with this skill. Consider using the money you save to support a missionary. Or pass along your surplus to local shelters and food pantries. In this way, we can make "couponing" an endeavor worthy of our calling as Christians.

Whether you eat or drink (or coupon), or whatever you do, 
do all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Giveaway: Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters

You might have seen these at your store recently and wondered if they were any good. You might have also thought, gee, those are kind of expensive. Well, let me tell you, they are very good if you are looking for a crunchy snack, but they don't have to be expensive. Especially when you can win some for free right here! (Plus there is a $1 printable coupon available online).

You could win the same gift set I was sent (see picture below) just by following the instructions below. Included in the gift set are 1 full size sample of each of 4 flavors, 1 pair of binoculars, 1 stainless steel water bottle, 1 super cool flashlight (just ask Charlotte if you want to know how cool it is), and 1 backpack (that doubles as a great small diaper bag)).




How to Enter: There are four ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to four entries:

  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to win,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
  4. Share this giveaway on Twitter and leave a 5th comment letting me know you did (copy & paste this suggested text: Win a Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters Gift Pack from @FamilyMusings http://bit.ly/thQEx)
That's it. 4 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Sunday, November15. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
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Sponsored by My Blog Spark

Do you feel lonely?

It seems I've really been confronted lately how lonely it can feel to be a SAHM and with how hard it is to develop deep, meaningful friendships as an adult. There aren't many places to meet other people if you are a SAHM. After all, work outside of the home is the primary time consumer of most adults. So while the rest of the world has a built in place to make friends, SAHMs spend most of their time with the knee-high to a grass-hopper set.

And while our children can be joyful and entertaining, they aren't yet able to discuss the most recent elections, the pastor's Sunday sermon, or what is happening in the neighborhood in the same way as a fellow adult can.

Personally, since I've moved to Lakeland, I've started to make close friendships with two other SAHMs. Unfortunately, they both moved out of state within 6 months of us really beginning to connect. And, while I keep up with both of them through Facebook and our respective blogs, it just isn't the same as sitting next to one of them on the park bench while our kids go down the slide together.

Though some days I feel like my life borders lonely-town, I'm not totally lonely.  I have MOPs, my blog (and all you wonderful commenters), the ladies in my adult Bible Study at church, and a playgroup that I am involved in. Each of these groups/things/people help to keep me connected to something other than Sprout or Nick Jr.

But yet, something is missing.

I need a best mom friend. Someone who maybe has parented a toddler or is in the midst of it and understands how it feels to count the seconds until the husband walks in the front door after a particularly trying day. Someone who believes that home should be a warm, inviting place even if there are granola bar crumbs on the floor and the furniture hasn't seen a feather duster in six months.


Fellow moms, I know I am not alone with my questions. Remember how I said this issue has been coming up a lot lately? Well, I received the following statistics in a recent email from Mom Central Consulting.


  • A surprising majority of Moms (60%) feel lonely and unsupported in their day-to-day lives and turn online to form new friendships based on shared interests, life events and parenting support.
  • 4 out of 5 Moms feel they lack enough friends in their lives.
  • 40% report not having a best friend.
  • 60% of Moms have made new online friends by connecting around shared passions, life stories, and parenting issues.
  • Over 30% have turned the connection into a lasting offline friendship.
  • 1 in 3 Moms report feeling able to share things with online friends that they do not share with offline friends.  (To view the complete results of this study, click here.)
I can personally relate to all of these statistics, especially the last one. It just seems easier some times to write my thoughts down here on in a Facebook status update and send them out into cyber space. I don't expect anyone to respond so there is no risk of personal rejection. Whereas, if I sat down, face to face with someone, and shared these same lonely feelings,  I might get rebuffed or create discomfort in the person I am talking too.

So here's my question -
How do you find a best friend? How far out there do I need to put myself before someone will be willing to reciprocate with their own feelings and dreams and troubles?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Yoplait Giveaway Winner

I completely blanked that I had a giveaway back in the beginning of September (might have something to do with the birth of Mary about that time!).

So, tonight, I asked Random.org to find a winner for me:

True Random Number Generator 
 
56  
Powered by RANDOM.ORG 
 
And the winner is Blakesmom, who shares that her snacking weakness is ice cream. I know my husband can relate to that, especially if it is cookies and cream flavored!

Congratulations Cherice. Make sure you send me your mailing address so we can get your prize pack out to you as soon as possible.

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part 13

We are now at the end of my journey through the scrapbook my mom made for me as a bridal shower gift some 11 1/2 years ago.  Here are the last two pages from my wonderful book and they are all about my husband, Bruce.




You can see there was a time when he actually had hair, and I had bangs! Yikes! What was I thinking?

Bruce and I went on a lot of dates to Disney because it was free (his dad works there) and there were a wide variety of things to do. One thing we rarely did though was go out to eat. I can count on the 2 fingers the number of times Bruce took me to eat at a restaurant (not counting meals at Disney). Yep folks, 2 times. That is all it took to court me. And, one of those times was the night he proposed. We went to Chili's. Yummy.

Since one of the reasons I am sharing the scrapbook here is to tell some of the back story to the pages my mom put together, I thought it would be interesting to share how Bruce and I met. Bruce is a way better story tell (he really should write this blog, ya'll!), so I asked him to tell the story in his own words:
Jennifer's mom was a substitute teacher at our high school, and I used to avoid school work by chatting it up with subs. One day, I was talking with a sub about my other classes and she said her daughter was in my world history honors course.

It wasn't until the start of the new semester, when our teacher Dr. Vossler, forced us all to move to new seats in the classroom, that I actually met Jennifer. I ended up sitting near her. I was like, "Hey, I met your mom." And Jennifer was like, "Argh." And I was like, "We're gonna get married one day." And she was like, "Are you making fun of me?" And I was like, "No, and by the way, did you know that I astral-project myself to another planet sometimes?" And she was like, "There's something about this guy that I like." And the rest was like history--in history class.
Yep. He said "astral-project." And he wonders why I wasn't immediately throwing myself at his feet to get married. Maybe someday I'll get him to write out the rest of the story so I can make sure my corrections to it are preserved for posterity.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mary's Midday Naps

Sorry for my longish absence from Family Musings. I've been busy with play, Facebooking, therapy, and napping. There are so many things I want to share but when I sit down to write them out, my brain is too tired to make them, funny, clever, or sometimes, even intelligible.

So in the mean time, while you wait for me to get my act together, I'll just share this picture of Mary taking her midday nap today.


And yes, I normally put her on her tummy on the floor for this nap. Don't all babies nap peacefully on the floor?